SEOUL — For more than six months, Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader has given the world an unprecedented look into his private life.
The first batch of photos revealed a girl in a ponytail and red shoes walking hand in hand with Kim around an ICBM.lHwasong-17.
He is later seen staring into his eyes at a celebration for weapons scientists and tenderly patting him on the back during a military parade.
On May 16, the two wore matching lab coats as they inspected a suspected spy satellite.
State media has aired images of father and daughter more than a dozen times since November, with a rehearsed choreographyfrom hedgehogs to gloves.
Analysts consider them confirmation of parentage, although none of the photos can be independently verified.
The country has been in near-total lockdown since the start of the pandemic.
But the propaganda machine of the regime has been kept busy producing”sajin jeongchi”or photographic politics, which has given rise to indiscretions, questions and complaints.
Now that routine missile tests in the country aren’t generating the headlines she craved, Kim appears to be tapping into her daughter’s global star power.
“President Kim is always hungry for attention, but he is losing the limelight,” said Kim Young-soo, who heads the North Korea Research Institute, referring to the last time the leader dominated the international media, during the meetings of 2018 and 2019. with the president Donald Trump.
The new photos with his daughter divert attention away from Kim Jong-un, who is failing to provide adequate food and energy for his people, and, according to Soo Kim of the Lowy Institute, prevent the international community from focusing on a long-term solution the state’s nuclear capabilities.
What do we know about this girl?
According to South Korean intelligence, it’s called Ju-aeaged about 10, he is probably the leader’s middle child, and as a child he was once held in the arms of American basketball star Dennis Rodman.
Almost everything else is speculation.
One of the favorite discussion questions of North Korea analysts is:
Are you the natural heir?
Some clues point to yes.
The regime has long been obsessed with portraits as part of the personality cult woven around every North Korean leader.
Ju-ae’s intimate photos with Kim could be considered an official endorsement.
A successor, or successor, would also have to be the embodiment of his predecessor, with adept handling of the regime’s militaristic ideology, something the photos seem to illustrate.
Ju-ae’s legacy claim is also bolstered by decades of “embellished stories about the honorable revolutionary blood that courses in the family’s veins,” as a 1988 RAND report on his grandfather Kim Jong-il’s legitimacy put it.
In February, state television underlined his direct link to the Paektu lineage, referring to the myth that his grandfather was born on the highest mountain on the Korean peninsula, with images of a white horse belonging to the leader’s “beloved” son.
State media had previously published photos of Kim Jong-un riding a white horse around Mount Paektu.
Finally, Radio Asia free recently reported that North Koreans nicknamed Ju-ae were summoned to change their names; the same request was made to people who shared the names of previous leaders.
Others point out that Ju-ae has no chance of succession.
In a country of hidden agendas, current and historical events foreshadow the young woman’s purpose and destiny.
Ultimately, this logic suggests that entrenched patriarchal traditions and inequalityd of kind of country and dynasty will result motionless.
From the country’s founder, Kim Il-sung, to Kim Jong-il and now Kim Jong-un, power in North Korea has been deliberately passed down from father to son.
Over the course of three generations, each man was declared supreme ruler and ruled by a single North Korean-centric formula, the “suryong”.
The state ideology, called “juche”, mixes socialism and Confucianism, a hierarchical system that places men above women and limits the latter’s activities.
In the socialist theory of the big family in North Korea, society is an organism constituted by the “suryong” (the big leader) as a nucleus, surrounded by the party and the people, each with an inseparable relationship within a community united by a common destiny,” wrote Kim Won-hong in a 2014 report, “North Korean Women: A Closer Look at Everyday Life.”
The nucleus, of course, is the head of the family, the patriarch.
For hundreds of years, Korean custom has designated the eldest son as heir; Kim Jong-un, the youngest son, was only nominated after his father rejected his two brothers.
The odds are not in Ju-ae’s favor, as according to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, Kim Jong-un is believed to have at least one son, Ju-ae’s older brother, and a third son, whose gender it is not publicly known.
North Korea is experiencing “a wind of gender change,” says Koo Hae-woo, a former top spy agency operative, but still thinks there will only be “one man at the top.”
Gender barriers are evident throughout North Korea, perhaps more so now than when the country was founded after World War II.
To build his empire, Kim Il-sung promoted equal rights to increase the contribution of women to the economy and society.
A law gave women the right to vote and run for public office, and the Women’s Democratic Union was created.
But in the 1990s, the state plunged into an economic crisis and deadly famine.
Families only survived because married women took on the dual role of breadwinner and housewife.
According to the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, “pervasive gender stereotypes” remain the root cause of discrimination against women.
“Women are called ‘flowers’.
Women’s appearance – clothing, hairstyle and even make-up – is subject to state control,” Elizabeth Salmón wrote in her February report.
According to her, the gender violence is normalized:
“Many women in the country have suffered sexual violence and rape, especially by men in positions of authority, with complete impunity”.
According to the report, about 72% of people who have fled to South Korea are women.
About a dozen female defectors who had been architects and doctors told me that even though they could only sell trash or work in Seoul’s public toilets, they were happier and received a fairer deal.
Long before Ju-ae, Kim’s regime turned elite women into political symbols.
In the 1970s, Kim Jong-il’s grandmother, Kang Ban-sok, and his mother, Kim Jong-suk, appeared as models in Joseon Women’s magazine.
Kang was promoted as the “mother of all Koreans” through popular songs, paintings, and revolutionary poetry. She was consistently seen wearing indigenous Korean clothing and a traditional hairstyle.
The regime represented Kim as “the mother of the revolution”. Women were raised to emulate her virtuous femininity and her conjugal devotion.
Although Kim Jong-un keeps several women in his inner circle, they only serve his interests.
“Kim Jong-un has been adept at using his female entourage by assigning them different roles,” says Yun Byung-se, a former South Korean foreign minister.
For example, your sister Kim Yo Jongplays the bad cop in diplomatic disputes with the United States, while the first lady, Ri Sol-juserves as the “mother of the state”.
With Ju-ae, Kim wants North Koreans to know that future generations of the Paektu lineage are willing to defend the dynasty, Yun says.
And he wants to be seen as a “loving father to all his citizens,” said Choi Byung-seop, who spent three decades overseeing North Korean television for the South Korean unification ministry.
Kim launched Ju-ae as a test balloon to “check reactions inside and outside his regime,” says Kim Young-soo.
Measuring the loyalty of society’s elite is one way to measure the consolidation of his power; showing a daughter could mean he feels reasonably safe, Choi says.
Ju-ae’s photographs reinforce what we already know about North Korea and tell us even more.
She is the latest in a line of idolized and touted elite women.
In February, the regime printed Ju-ae’s photo on five new stamps.
We can only imagine what Kim Jong-un’s purpose is in turning all eyes on his daughter.
c.2023 The New York Times Society
Mary Ortiz is a seasoned journalist with a passion for world events. As a writer for News Rebeat, she brings a fresh perspective to the latest global happenings and provides in-depth coverage that offers a deeper understanding of the world around us.